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Liquid on Your PC: What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop

published 5/2/2020

You're preparing a big presentation for work tomorrow. You've almost finished writing a very time-demanding document. You're putting the final touches on your important project.

Suddenly, you spill water all over your laptop... now what?

If you need to know what to do when you spill water on your laptop, follow this in-depth guide. We've got you covered!

What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop

Spilling water or other liquids on your laptop can cause serious damage. It can hurt every part of your laptop, from the keyboard to the internal workings, like the hard drive and motherboard.

Before you find out the extent of the damage, the first thing you should do is dry out your laptop.

Step 1: Remove External Components

As quickly as possible, turn off your computer and detach any easily removable components.

That includes the mouse, any external hard drives and DVD players, and cables. Remove these fast to avoid damaging them.

Step 2: Dry the Outside of Your Computer

The next step is to dry your laptop as thoroughly as possible.

Open up your computer as wide as you can, then flip it upside down. This will encourage water to exit the keyboard and monitor. Get a dry towel or a good amount of paper towel -- something absorbent -- and wipe down every inch of your machine.

The faster you act, the less damage you'll experience. However, it'll be impossible to get all the water out with just a towel.

Once you've dried the outside of your machine, you should contact a trustable computer repair shop. They'll be able to safely test your machine and figure out the extent of the damage.

Step 3: Do a Deep Dry

The next step -- if you're able -- is to open up your laptop and perform a deep dry.

How you do this depends on the type of laptop you have. A Macbook, for example, opens in a different way than a Thinkpad. You might need different tools to take these machines apart and put them back together.

Google is your friend in this case. That, or the safer option of visiting a PC repair store. If you're willing to take the risk of breaking your laptop, though, go ahead and open up that machine.

The first step is usually to remove the battery. This is usually very easy and doesn't require opening the machine. There's often a switch at the back of your computer where the battery slots in.

Most laptops allow you to remove the whole keyboard, the trackpad, and expose the internals through the back of the machine. Again, depending on your laptop you'll need to use very different methods to achieve this. Don't force anything off, or you may not get it back on -- only remove components held down by screws or tabs.

Once you've exposed the insides of your laptop, carefully dry it with a dry towel or cloth. You can also hold your machine upside down, letting water drip out of the insides.

Once you've dried what you can, leave your laptop in this exposed state to air-dry. You may want to do this for a few days. Turn on a fan to speed up the process, but don't use a hairdryer or heater as this can further damage your computer.

Once you've left it to dry, put your computer back together and test it out. If it's still not working, head to your local computer repair store.

Step 4: Try the Rice Method

If you've ever got water on your laptop or phone, someone may have told you about the rice method. What you may not know is that it can actually work!

First, dry your machine as much as possible. Put it upside down, dry it with a towel, and let it air dry a little. You'll also want to remove the battery and any external components and dry those, too.

You can open up your laptop further if you want, but you don't have to. This method will work better, though, the more exposed your computer is.

Next, fill a box or bowl with dry, uncooked rice. Make sure the box is large enough to fit your laptop. Fill a few other boxes if you want to dry your battery, keyboard, or other removed components.

Put your computer in the rice and leave it for at least two days.

Once those two days are up, take all the components out and reassemble your computer. Put the battery back in, plug it in, then test your computer. If it works, congratulations -- you just fixed your wet laptop with rice!

You can also substitute rice with silica gel packs, but these are more expensive and less convenient to get your hands on.

Preventing Water Damage

Water damage can affect anyone at any time. No matter how careful you are, you never know when you might accidentally spill something on your laptop. The best plan is to prepare for these mistakes before they happen.

To save your keyboard, you can invest in a cheap silicone keyboard cover. These come in tons of fresh colors and styles to match your personality. This is an easy and stylish way to protect your laptop from water.

Some companies make rugged laptops made to stand up against water and falling damage. If you're a clumsy person, you might want to invest in one of these.

You can also get waterproof cases for the back of your laptop, and waterproof screen protectors.

Laptop Water Damage: It's Not Hopeless

Don't give up on your laptop just because of a spill. Follow the steps above on what to do when you spill water on your laptop and you might just be able to save it. If not, there's always the PC repair shop.

If you've tried all the solutions above to no avail, visit a computer repair shop. They have experience in dealing with wet computers. They'll be able to tell you the extent of the damage, salvage what data they can, and attempt to fix your machine.

If you're looking for the most reliable PC repair service in Phoenix, Arizona, book an appointment with the Data Doctors. We'll get that PC up and running in no time.